UK-JORDAN: Faynan’s cultural heritage offers route to sustainable development

Jordan has few natural resources and faces numerous challenges, such as water shortages and the Middle East refugee crisis, but it also boasts spectacular sights and a rich history. Tourism is critical to its economic growth, but action is needed to ensure its benefits are received by local communities and the cultural and natural landscapes of Jordan are preserved.

This project, based in an impoverished region of southern Jordan called Faynan, is showing how cultural heritage can be used to support sustainable development via ecotoursim with low-cost investment and benefits directly to the local community.

The project is developing the local museum by including representation of the last 100 years of Faynan to balance an existing emphasis on the ancient past. It is enabling members of the local community to tell their own history and stories about Faynan in their own way, and to have these represented within the museum.

The team supports six schools in Faynan to develop their awareness and understanding of Faynan’s cultural heritage by providing educational resources and activities at the Faynan Museum. It provides teacher training to support the schools to use cultural heritage for teaching and learning across the curriculum. A new Faynan Heritage Trail established for tourists and schools highlights some of the most impressive and important archaeological sites in Faynan. This will be used to support the recently established Bedouin trekking camps and the Eco Hotel.

The project has already won an award to build on the Newton funded research, but further funding will enable the team to help 50 women from the local community access skills and training opportunities to develop the ‘Faynan Heritage Women’s Cooperative’ as a social enterprise and generate income for their households.

This project emphasises the need of preserving the history and culture of Faynan through education and development for visitors, students, and the community. It has increased community belonging to the region and will enable it to become a tourist destination.

Ali Hassasseen, Faynan Museum Curator


Project leads: Professor Steven Mithen, University of Reading and Dr Fatima Al-Nammari, University of Petra, Jordan

Delivery partners: Arts and Humanities Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Jordan

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